eyes on the U.S.
July 30, 2016
WASHINGTON â€" When Chelsea Clinton took the stage on Thursday night to introduce her mother, she faced a tall order. The once and perhaps future first daughter will be in direct competition with longtime friend Ivanka Trump, who emerged as the star of last week's Republican convention. Even die-hard Democrats were impressed by the performance of the glamorous and well-spoken businesswoman often referred to as "Trump's better half." Tweeted Mia Farrow, "When is Ivanka running for president?"
Clinton, who has long been one of her mother's closest political advisers, is unlikely to give the Democratic nominee as big a boost. But fortunately for her, Hillary Clinton is far less dependent on the next generation than Donald Trump. Since the combative Trump has so few political allies, he had little choice but to turn the Republic National Convention into a family affair in which his four adult children all held coveted prime-time speaking slots. Though Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany were also effective character witnesses, Ivanka, who typically speaks to her father several times a day, was perhaps most effective in countering her father's perceived flaws. But even if Hillary Clinton is not relying on her daughter to restore her image, Chelsea would probably play a significant role in her mother's presidency, a departure from most first daughters.
Whoever wins the election in November, America is poised to have its most consequential first daughter since Anna Roosevelt. In 1943, the 37-year-old eldest child of Franklin Roosevelt, who had worked as a journalist for a decade, moved into the White House to serve as her father's special assistant. She soon became FDR's "expediter," as Washington insiders put it, the aide who both got people in to see the president and got the president to do things. Many White House watchers were convinced that FDR's decision to put Harry Truman on the ticket in the summer of 1944 was entirely hers. As LIFE put it in early 1945, "Daddy's girl is running Daddy."
None of the first daughters since 1945 have been too intimately involved in affairs of state. Margaret Truman was too busy launching her career as a singer and writer; the Johnson and Nixon daughters appeared at campaign events for their fathers but never took part in policy formulation. Likewise, Caroline Kennedy, Amy Carter, Chelsea on her first go-round, the Bush twins and the Obama girls were all still immersed in their schoolwork.
Patti Davis, in contrast, bitterly opposed the agenda of her father, whom she attacked in her fiction. Maureen Reagan was a political creature (she ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat in California during her father's first term), but she was not particularly close to Reagan. And while George H.W. Bush did occasionally lean on a future president, his eldest son, George, he did not look to his youngest child, Doro, for political advice.
Anna Roosevelt was the exception. Given FDR's tense relationship with his wife at the end of his presidency, Anna often took on the duties of the first lady. It was she whom FDR asked to accompany him to Yalta rather than his wife. At that historic conference, Anna both monitored her father's delicate health â€" unbeknownst to the American people, the president was suffering from a serious heart ailment - and took charge of the complicated dining arrangements for his meals with his staff and the other world leaders such as Stalin.
Chelsea and Ivanka are major figures in the 2016 campaign. While Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were the ones who forced out Trump's longtime campaign manager, Corey Lewandoski, Chelsea helped formulate the response to some of Bernie Sanders's attacks this winter â€" such as those that touched on her mother's support of the Affordable Care Act. Like Anna Roosevelt, both daughters are likely to be enlisted as part-time first ladies: Chelsea because the nation's first gentleman would want to pursue other interests and Ivanka because her stepmother seems to like her privacy.
While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton promise to take the country in vastly different directions, the two women auditioning to be Anna Roosevelt's successor have much in common. Like FDR's daughter, both Chelsea and Ivanka grew up as children of privilege in families shaken by severe marital discord and infidelity. And just as the young Ivanka was constructing towers with Legos in her father's office, Chelsea has been accompanying her mother to campaign rallies since age 2. As girls, each one turned serious early in part because neither enjoyed much unstructured playtime with her parents. Though she may well become America's first first mom, Clinton the parent has resembled the vast majority of the 43 men who have served as president. Like Trump, she, too, has held extraordinarily demanding jobs, and work has been one of the primary ways in which she has bonded with her daughter. Today, just as Ivanka serves as an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, Chelsea serves as vice chair of the Clinton Foundation.
Politically, Ivanka Trump, who last week described herself as neither "Republican or Democrat," and Chelsea Clinton are not all that far apart. Ivanka's allusion in Cleveland to the importance of equal pay for equal work seems lifted not from anything her father has ever said, but from one of Hillary Clinton's stump speeches. The major difference between the two is that Chelsea, who holds a trio of advance degrees, is more wonkish â€" she's an expert on health policy, for example â€" and seems a bit more uncomfortable in the media spotlight.
But both women are dutiful daughters who will keep doing whatever they can to help their parents achieve their professional dreams. In the run-up to the election, while Ivanka Trump is expected to focus on shoring up her father's support among women, Chelsea Clinton is likely to work on humanizing her mother. After January, it's hard to imagine that either daughter would turn down whatever assignment dropped on her lap.
At the end of this scorched-earth campaign, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will no doubt want to avoid each other. But their daughters, who can readily identify with each other's predicament, may well be able to pick back up their friendship.
*Joshua Kendall is the author of First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Founded in 1877, The Washington Post is a leading U.S. daily, with extensive coverage of national politics, including the historic series of stories following the Watergate break-in that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. After decades of ownership by the Graham family, the Post was purchased in 2013 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
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A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.
Eva Marie Kogel
October 24, 2021
BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.
Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.
The incident at the cemetery
They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."
There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.
It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.
The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
Crimes against Jews are rising
Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.
Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.
Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.
And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?
Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously
This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.
Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.
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Die Welt ("The World") is a German daily founded in Hamburg in 1946, and currently owned by the Axel Springer AG company, Europe's largest publishing house. Now based in Berlin, Die Welt is sold in more than 130 countries. A Sunday edition called Welt am Sonntag has been published since 1948.
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