Press: Immigration debate hits Kennedy Center

Press: Immigration debate hits Kennedy Center
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Yes, it’s true. The tickets for “Hamilton” are exorbitantly expensive. But don’t let that stop you. Take out a second mortgage, sell your first-born, get a loan from Michael Cohen. Do whatever it takes to experience this phenomenal musical before it leaves the Kennedy Center.

Before you go, one word of warning: Don’t expect just a lesson in American history. Yes, on one level, “Hamilton” recreates — in rap! — the debate among our founding fathers, especially Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, over direction of the new republic. But “Hamilton” is not just about the past. It’s also a powerful portrayal of what’s happening in America today.

Indeed, the most powerful take-away from “Hamilton” is that we’re still struggling today with some of the same issues that plagued the founders. Are we willing to accept immigrants as full-fledged partners in building America, or will we reject any immigrant, no matter how talented, simply because he or she was not born here? And are we once again so foolish as to subject ourselves to the whims of a stark raving mad king?


That may be Hamilton’s biggest surprise: The real star is not Hamilton. It’s King George III, who literally stops the show with his hilarious boast to the rebellious colonists: “You’ll be back/Soon you’ll see/ You’ll remember you belong to me/ You’ll be back/ Time will tell/ You’ll remember that I served you well.”

An outrageous claim? You bet, but no more ridiculous than recent claims made by our own mad monarch, Donald the First. This is the man who was elected, in part, because he claimed to be such a great deal-maker. And yet, as the New York Times’s Peter Baker points out, has made no new deals at all. Notes Baker: “No deal on health care. No deal on gun control. No deal on spending cuts. No deal on [the North American Free Trade Agreement]. No deal on China trade. No deal on steel and aluminum imports. No deal on Middle East peace. No deal on the Qatar blockade. No deal on Syria. No deal on Russia. No deal on Iran. No deal on climate change. No deal on Pacific trade.” To which we can add: No deal, yet, on North Korea. And, of course, no deal on immigration. He’s even told Congress to stop trying to craft a deal on immigration.

Mad Donald was also elected in part for promising to drain the swamp. Yet, in fact, he’s done the opposite: bringing notorious swamp creatures like Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonDemocrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans Trump HUD official: 'I don't care if I'm not supposed to be tweeting during the shutdown' Top Trump official resigned over White House plan to withhold disaster-relief funds from Puerto Rico: report MORE, Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Zinke, Lewandowski join Trump veterans’ lobbying firm Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? MORE and Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Court tosses challenge to EPA's exclusion of certain scientists from advisory boards MORE to Washington. At the same time, his daughter and son-in-law reported raking in a stunning $82 million in outside income while serving as White House aides. Which is probably a mere fraction of what the king himself made from his properties — which we’ll never know because the monarch refuses to release his tax returns.

And, of course, King George’s taunt of “you’ll be back” is no more preposterous than King Donald’s claim that the midterm elections are going to result in a “red wave,” when every respectable poll, based largely on his unpopularity, foretells just the opposite.

In the end, for us, “Hamilton” poses two challenges. One, reminded of what immense contributions one immigrant made in forming this new nation, are we so dumb as to slam the door on today’s Alexander Hamiltons? Two, reminded of how wise our founding fathers were to break with mad George III, how soon before we’re smart enough to break with mad Donald the First?

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”