In a fitting demonstration of his peculiarly inept and yet brashly dickish way of moving through the world, John Kasich hung out with some Orthodox Jewish yeshiva students on Tuesday and explained a story from the Torah to them. John: they know. I promise you they know.
“You guys like Joseph?” Kasich inquired of men who study the Torah all day, in an encounter captured by Jewish Insider. He was in Boro Park, an Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn. He was referring to a story from Exodus, part of what he probably calls “the Old Testament” and which his hangout buds would call the Torah. It’s almost Passover, wherein we re-tell the story of Joseph, at length. John. Babe. Don’t do this.
The video taken by Jacob Kornbluh at Jewish Insider begins with Kasich, for some reason, arguing with a middle-aged Orthodox man about whether Moses or Abraham is more important to the Jews. His conversation buddy suggested both are important.
“What are you talking about?” Kasich responded, with slightly more cranky exuberance than was called for. “Get outta here! The story of the people are Abraham—when God made a covenant with Abraham, not Moses.”
A moment later, he turned the laser beam of his bewildering condescension on a group of young, smiling yeshiva students. From Kornbluh’s account:
What are you studying?” he asked. “Talmud,” one student replied. “Okay, but what are you learning now?” Kasich pressed. “Shabbat laws,” they said. “Do you know who I like? Joseph,” Kasich started lecturing them. “You study Joseph? What do you think about Joseph? Did you hear what was the most important thing Joseph said to his brothers? ‘My brothers, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.’ Did you know that? He may have been a little bit of a bragger. A little bit. Maybe. But they threw him in that ditch, they saved him and then sold him to slavery. And that’s how the Jews got to Egypt. Did you know that?”
They did... they did know that. A more observant man might have noticed that many of the men in the crowd started giggling midway through this exchange, the way you might start giggling if someone wandered into your home, pulled out a family photo album, and started incorrectly identifying your great-aunts.
In a way, this is a refreshing change: Kasich usually reserves many of his infuriating conversational tics for women, lecturing them about Planned Parenthood. Spread the condescension around, John!
One more wonderful moment from the same encounter, narrated by Kornbluh, suggests that John Kasich has never actually heard of Passover:
Accompanied by Ezra Friedlander, a Democratic strategist, and CEO of The Friedlander Group, Kasich visited Eichler’s Judaica in Borough Park, where he was shown a silver-plated Seder tray, a matzah cover, and a Haggadah.
Kasich was amused to learn about the afikoman. As Friedlander described how the children “steal” the middle matzah and ask for a reward for its return, Kasich walked away astonished and mumbled, “pass-over.”
Chris Hayes dubbed the encounter “goysplaining,” which, while apt, is too annoying for us to allow into daily use.