Media outlets were all aflutter over Donald Trump’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. I was there. I stood up and clapped for him when he entered out of respect for the office he is running for, but I stood up and clapped for him at the end for another reason.
The Trump I saw on stage at the Verizon Center on Monday night was a very different Trump than any of us have seen throughout the campaign. He prepared a speech with his newly announced foreign policy advisory council and new speechwriters. He cited historical events and talked about policy specifics. His rebellious character certainly made a few controversial appearances, but what I saw at AIPAC was a more serious candidate who was hoping to make a good impression on the 18,000-plus AIPAC delegates at the Verizon Center who were watching him intently.
I gave him a standing ovation at the end because he did everything I could have asked him to do. I wanted him to get specific and he did. I wanted to hear about his foreign policy perspective and I did. Trump spoke in detail about the Iran nuclear arms deal and about dealing with the United Nations.
I did not clap for everything. Trump criticized the president and I did not clap for that. He criticized Hillary Clinton and I did not clap for that, either. But this time he gave me an idea about what a Trump administration’s foreign policy would look like and for that I stood up.
In The Washington Post on Monday, former Republican Congressman and “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough wrote about the media’s outright contempt for Trump. “Despite criticizing Trump for his lack of discipline, his proposed Muslim ban, his refusal to criticize David Duke and a number of other inexplicable episodes during his baffling run for the White House,” Scarborough said, “I will not substitute self-righteous preening for political analysis.”
He is absolutely right. The media and electorate alike need to abandon the soap-opera mentality of painting Trump as an irredeemable villain. Like it or not, Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president and he may very well win the general election in November.
This does not excuse the many inappropriate statements he has made and continues to make over the course of his campaign. Still, when Trump can actually provide policy specifics, Trump haters have no good reason not to listen. Xenophobia is never acceptable, but his speech was not that. His speech at AIPAC was, in reality, an orderly, detailed, policy-heavy speech.
If you refuse to at least listen to what Trump has to say when he actually says something of substance, then it is clear to me that the contempt for Trump and, by extension, the decision of who should run our country, is based on an assessment of Trump’s personality instead of an assessment of Trump’s political agenda.
The only way for us to fix the state of discord in this country is to get out of the personality wars and get back to policy specifics about the challenges facing our country. Based on his recent comments about Ted Cruz’s wife, Trump didn’t stay in this serious, policy-oriented mindset for long; but while the man stood on the AIPAC stage, his speech indicated a slight turn in that direction. That’s something I would stand up and clap for.
Eitan Snyder is a sophomore majoring in music business.