December 06, 2016

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

Source: Bigstock

It was the latter preoccupation that kindled one of the biggest controversies in a career studded with them (both authentic and overblown). In August 2014, a few months before her death, a TMZ reporter asked Rivers about then-raging Operation Protective Edge, and she lost it:

When you declare war, you declare war. They started it. You”€™re dead, you deserve to be dead. Don”€™t you dare make me feel bad about that. They were told to get out. They didn”€™t get out. You don”€™t get out, you”€™re an idiot. At least the ones that were killed were the ones with the low IQs.

Rivers added that Hamas were “€œterrorists”€ who “€œwere reelected by a lot of very stupid people who don”€™t even own a pencil.”€

All perfectly sound, so I was crestfallen when Rivers issued a defusing statement a short time later. Normally, she remained defiantly unapologetic, like the time a few months earlier when she quipped that sharing a home with her daughter was so claustrophobic, “€œthose women in the basement in Cleveland had more room.”€

Pearl-clutchers pushed Rivers to apologize for mocking two recently liberated sex slaves, but she doubled down:

They got to live rent-free for more than a decade. One of them has a book deal. Neither are in the psych ward. They”€™re okay. I bet you within three years one of them will be on “€˜Dancing With the Stars.”€™

Again: So what? I feel the same way about Elizabeth Smart, who seems awfully chipper for a girl who was raped three times a day by a dirty hippie. But what’s oddly revealing about Rivers”€™ retort is how weirdly it reflects, albeit in a fun-house mirror, the abiding concerns of her life: home, fame, sharing one’s dirtiest secrets”€”even avoiding the nuthouse: Her father threatened to commit young Joan unless she gave up showbiz.

And something else: Rivers”€™ sheer horror of failure and loss of control. She wasn”€™t so much grieved by her hapless husband’s suicide after he derailed her career and left her $37 million in debt as she was disgusted by what she saw as his weakness.

Those “€œPalestinians”€ too stupid to leave, those Cleveland women too weak to escape”€”hell, Who let themselves get kidnapped in the first place? you can hear her muttering”€”there was no room in Rivers”€™ otherwise charitable heart for such losers.

Sound familiar?

“€œI don”€™t like people who were captured.”€ That was Donald Trump making fun of John McCain’s stint in the Hanoi Hilton. Jimmy Kimmel’s fake Dr. Seuss-style children’s book “€œby”€ Trump, Winners Aren”€™t Losers, was so funny (even Trump laughed along) because it was so astonishingly plausible.

Most Jews don”€™t like Trump much, but a Jewish friend who does finds that hysterical:

They say he’s loud? They should hear themselves in restaurants; sometimes I have to leave. Trump has bad taste? You should see the inside of their houses, with the marble and the gold. He’s in the New York real estate businesses, he’s crazy for Israel, his grandkids probably call him “€œZaidie”€…

If only Joan Rivers had lived to see it: The first Jewish president. And a Republican, even.


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