Let me begin with two disclaimers:
First, I was not at the AIPAC conference so I base my thoughts on what I saw on TV.
Secondly, while I wish a different decision would have been made, I understand why AIPAC had to invite Donald Trump. If all major party presidential candidates are invited to speak, it is difficult for me to imagine how one candidate could be excluded. That he is still a viable candidate says more about the American people than it does about AIPAC as an organization.
Donald Trump said some things last night that were reasonable and on point. He condemned terror without mincing words. He raised the issue of what the Palestinian people are teaching their children. He expressed the importance of the relationship of the United States and Israel.
But, there was so much in his speech which was unnecessary, needlessly provocative, insulting and counter productive.
So much of what Mr. Trump said served to heighten conflict in the region rather than to seek resolution and his words and facial expressions in reference to President Obama were offensive and disrespectful to a sitting president.
But, through it all, what angered me most was the response.
Hearing the applause and shouts of approval from so many in attendance was extraordinary upsetting.
A campaign can not be about one speech.
Even if one agrees with his positions regarding Israel, applause is not just for words, it is for the one who speaks them. To see so many thousands of people in a largely Jewish setting standing and applauding a man who has expressed racist, hate filled positions, used horrendous language to insult women, continuously shown an insulting contempt for other candidates, and routinely displayed a conceited, self-aggrandizing attitude is a nightmare.
I can only draw two possible conclusions from the applause and approval.
Either people are willing to disregard everything else a candidate says or believes as long as he or she says the “right” things about Israel.
Or, people endorse all of the “other” things he says and does.
Either one scares me and should scare all of us.