I watched the ad when I first heard of the controversy, and while I can’t logically rule out the possibility that someone intentionally chose to obliquely satisfy their anti-Semitic urges by including Yellen et al. in the ad, I found it hard to credit Milbank’s claim that the ad shows that “anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody.” Indeed, I doubt I would have noticed any potential anti-Semitic implications of the ad at all, had I not been alerted to them.
First, and in contrast to almost every article I’ve read about the ad, suggesting that Jews were somehow featured, the Jews in the ad only appear for a total of about four seconds in a two-minute ad. Second, only Yellen and Soros are identified by name. I doubt 1 in 20 voters even knows who Yellen is, much less her ethnic background. Moreover, neither has a recognizably Jewish name — if you were going for the anti-Semitic vote, why not use Clinton supporters far more well-known and identifiably Jewish, such as Steven Spielberg, Joe Lieberman, or even Sarah Silverman? I didn’t know Yellen is Jewish. Third, Lloyd Blankfein is pictured, but not identified by name. How many voters would recognize Blankfein? I didn’t. And how many of those know he’s Jewish? Again, I didn’t.