Some Post-Christmas Thoughts

My mother is 96 years old. About 2 years ago it was clear her osteoarthritis was preventing her from continuing to live independently in South Florida, and we helped move her to Ring House in Rockville, Maryland, which is near to us. Ring House, a nonprofit organization, part of the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, is open to all, though the residents are predominantly Jewish. On Christmas afternoon, I called several times to check on her at a time when she’s normally in her apartment. I was getting concerned. On the fourth try, one of her aides answered and explained she had been downstairs for their traditional Chinese Christmas lunch.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that these kinds of cross-cultural traditions -- something the blinkered nitwits on some college campuses call “cultural appropriations” which they condemn -- are uniquely American.  

You can hardly find a town where there’s no sushi restaurant; Americans gobble down pizza with countless varieties of local toppings unimagined in Italy (like bratwurst, shinsato pork or jalapenos and enchiladas); you can buy croissants in refrigerated cases in supermarkets all over the country if you’ve no handy French bakery; bagels -- though not exactly like the originals -- are also everywhere; and kosher pickles and chickens are ubiquitous. Shawarma, gyros, Pad Thai noodles, eggrolls, pita, tacos, tortillas, hummus, and feta cheese -- you name a culinary tradition and we like it, we really like it. Or, at least most of us are willing to give the unfamiliar a tryout.

Like little Tiana in this charming video, we like things settled down -- emotions kept in a happy medium -- instead of constantly arguing and fighting amongst ourselves and acting like victims of dark forces. We’re the original can’t-we-all-get-along people.

It’s why I see no long-term future for those who seek to divide us up. Black Lives Matter is sure to go down the same rathole as similar groups before them. At a minimum, like the Farrakhan gang or the KKK, if they survive they will never actually draw significant long-term supporters to matter much.

I don’t mean to suggest that debate -- even sometimes heated -- about proper policy or suitability of different candidates is wrong. It’s certainly not only proper but also necessary to sift and winnow, debate and scrutinize to find the best candidates and policies we can. Silly responses, like “the science is settled” and scurrilous, unwarranted ad hominem attacks of racism, sexism, and such are, however, beyond the pale, and should be laughed off as preposterous, instead of being conversation stoppers.

It’s not just interparty squabbles that fill the Internet right now but impassioned supporters of one view or candidate inside the parties as well. (Well, actually inside the Republican party, as we must concede that scared as the Democrats may be about her legal difficulties, lack of credibility and health, Hillary seems a shoo in for the Democratic nomination.)

Cruz backers don’t like Rubio backers and Trump voters don’t like anybody else very much.

The consultants who live off these campaigns must be suffering from heart palpitations. At least early in the game, when the well-financed Jeb Bush who hired so many of them loses support as fast as he spends the millions he collected, while at the same time candidates like Trump, Fiorina, Cruz, and Carlson have so far done rather well on far less money, riding on the force of their own personalities, ideas, and skills, instead of hired guns.

Whoever comes out on top, I will vote for over Hillary Clinton. It’s that simple. No one is perfect. Not a single candidate is exactly like me -- that is, shares exactly my views on everything. Even those who share many of my views have not always done so consistently. Changing one’s mind based on new facts and experiences is often a sign of growth, not necessarily a cause for condemnation.

This week George Will argues that if Trump gets the nomination it will mean the end of the conservative party. 

Ann Althouse countered:

I can't really figure out what mechanism of destruction Will has in mind. He sees the GOP losing the 2016 election if Trump is the nominee, but the GOP just lost the last 2 presidential elections, and yet the party lives. Will dips into the history of Taft and Goldwater, then:

‘In 2016, a Trump nomination would not just mean another Democratic presidency. It would also mean the loss of what Taft and then Goldwater made possible -- a conservative party as a constant presence in U.S. politics.

It is possible Trump will not win any primary, and that by the middle of March our long national embarrassment will be over. But this avatar of unfettered government and executive authoritarianism has mesmerized a large portion of Republicans for six months....’

I get that Will thinks Trump is embarrassing and that it deeply disturbs him that the American people have fallen for a man like that. So uncouth! But how does it end the conservative party? I understand the objection to "unfettered government and executive authoritarianism," but why does Trump present such a special threat? I don't get the hysteria -- especially coming from someone who purports to be so offended by Trump's rhetorical drama.

In the National Review, Conrad Black takes an opposite tack, arguing that Rubio is the one who can beat Hillary.  

For what it is worth, I think Cruz will win in Iowa, and Trump will win in New Hampshire. But then the race will narrow sharply and if Trump does not become more specific and more acceptable to the large group of moderates who find him offensive (but are about as irritated as I am by attempts to portray him as a Nazi), he will then start to slide, and I think that Rubio will win over Trump, Bush, and Cruz in Florida and ease in ahead, even if the candidates who have won earlier contests before, such as Bush and Cruz, have to deliver him blocs of delegates to put him across over Trump.  As most of Trump’s views, apart from a couple of areas of immigration and law enforcement, are quite moderate, there is plenty of room to adopt much of his platform on behalf of a largely united party. Trump would receive considerable deference, and the level of his support entitles him to it; he will not do anything that would assist Hillary back into the White House and the idea that he would spend a billion dollars of his own money to win the Ross Perot Prize as a useful idiot for the Clintons was a figment of the febrile and wishful imaginations of CNN and the New York Times. The choice of the vice-presidential candidates could influence the election outcome for the first time since, of all people, Spiro Agnew (in 1968, to cut into the George Wallace vote), if not Lyndon Johnson (1960). The Bush-Clinton era has had its moments, but after the disasters of the last 20 years, I think the country wants a change, and if the Republicans nominate a worthy heir to the wide vote-attracting talents of Eisenhower, Reagan, and, at his best, Nixon, and not the foot-in-mouth disease of some of the blunderbuss candidates interspersed around and after them, it should be their year again. 

As for my own view, I think any of the top runners in the field will be better than the opposition and I am determined to support whichever candidate wins the nomination. If you think you’ll flounce off and not vote if your favorite doesn’t win it, think upcoming Supreme Court vacancies; executive orders; national defense; immigration, spending, and rethink that, please.

In the meantime, Tiana’s advice is good -- stay settled and smile.

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