I was pretty smug two days before the 2016 presidential election when I bet my younger son $20 that Hillary Clinton would win the election. Mind you, I gave him a chance and pointed out that the pollsters and English bookmakers had all pegged Hillary as a shoo-in."Wait till the election," he responded in a low, determined voice. And it was at that point that I decided he needed to be taught a lesson: Just because your gut says something is true doesn't mean it's necessarily true.And now, of course, I am in somewhat the same position as the Washington Post which, in 1948 had pre-printed a number of newspapers announcing Thomas Dewey had won the presidency. When President Harry Truman returned to Washington Nov. 5, 1948, the Post put out a banner that read, "Mr. President, we are ready to eat crow whenever you are ready to serve it."Likewise, I gave my son his $20. I wasn't happy about it, but I did it and then returned to the task of trying to soothe the rug burn that seemed to permeate my being. I watched the TV and listened to the radio and none of it seemed to work very well. I was a jackass -- read 'em and weep.And yet drip by drop, other realizations joined the fray: You can only play the jackass card for so long. During the same timeframe in which Donald Trump had won and the fallout descended and a sense of being rug-burned all over arose, there were other things I considered more compelling.In the political realm, Janet Reno, the first woman attorney general of the United States, died Nov. 7 at 78. A big, horsy, tough broad, she seemed to piss off an equal number of people in whatever camp during her service from 1993 to 2001. For all pushback she could ignite, even her enemies were often willing to grant her the one word that hardly touched the presidential election of 2016: "Integrity." Janet Reno stood for the law. Period. And from where I sit and pine and salve the rug burn of the present, her solo line issued to an inquiring press wins my vote hands down: "I don't do spin.""I don't do spin." Coming from anyone else, it might be hot air. Coming from Janet Reno, a sense of healing and decency springs up in me, however misplaced it may be. How I wish the latest candidates might have said the same and had the chops to prove it and made my heart soar a little.And then, as if heeding my own call, writer and musician Leonard Cohen died Nov. 7 at 82 according to The Guardian. The fact that he could make my heart soar meant that his death represented something of a nosedive. A nosedive, perhaps, and yet his words and music accomplished something very much like Janet Reno -- an integrity and beauty that made my heart soar a little ... and a lot.Reno did something.Cohen did something.Doing takes courage. Not doing -- and instead relying on what can be criticized -- takes self-importance and the willingness to claim you are right. For example, for six years, Republicans have criticized the national health coverage called "Obamacare." In all of those years, no replacement has been provided. If repealing Obamacare without a replacement is the goal, then 20 million people stand to lose all health coverage. Insurance companies gain. The little guy takes it on the chin. So what courage is a Republican-dominated Washington willing to display?Or consider the loss of coal mining jobs. Those jobs were lost in part because of advancing technology, but they were most compellingly lost because the cost of natural gas makes coal mining less attractive to those who hope to make money. Will there be enough courage to admit this without spin? Yes, coal miners got shafted economically but is there really a way to re-employ and unshaft them? If re-education is the answer, where is the money to make that possible? Will more taxes be necessary? But wait, Republicans like to say they dislike taxes. So which is it going to be, assuming anyone has the courage to DO something?And don't get me started on Veterans Day in the midst of an on-going, never-ending state of war that Congress has not declared. Our fathers and mothers and sisters and sons and daughters and spouses are being put in harm's way ... ad infinitum. Polish up the American-flag lapel pins. Get re-elected. Of course there's no way to compass the "collateral damage" suffered by those living in war-torn lands. Somehow they don't count when it comes to death and "heroism."I don't really have any answers, but I do know that feeling rug-burned all over makes me seek solace in those who have managed a bit of doing, a bit of integrity, a bit of life without spin.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
I wrote the following yesterday with half an eye towards submitting it as a column later this month. Today, I am sick of the whining in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential victory and don't want to add to that harmonious keening ... but I'll save it, even if it was only a draft: