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Thanksgiving 2006


Humble pie was an important part of my menu for Thanksgiving (which otherwise was a brilliant version of the traditional grand meal, one of our best ever, prepared by daughter Jana, dear wife Karen, and niece-in-law Tahmina). We missed my sister Mary Ann, who may be the best cook in the family, but then our own chefs hit ten for ten.

For instance, thinking just afterwards that it had been a mistake, Jana and Karen – highly developed cooks themselves — added an extra cup of broth to the juice in which the turkey would roast.  In reality, the extra cup created a very helpful steam and the huge turkey came out unbelievably tender and moist. Similarly, the spiced stuffing, creamed cauliflower, sweet potatoes with marshmallow, mashed potatoes with gravy, and the long green beans wrapped with bacon. Add for color slices of cranberry and hot red beets, and the overloaded plates looked as good as they tasted. (Alas, we forgot that there were sliced cucumbers cooling in the refrigerator – not as if taste buds had any need of further stimulation).

Later, there were a pumpkin and coco nut cream pie brought by Tahmina, and a dutch apple pie prepared the old-fashioned way (with large halved apples), almost like an apple-pan-dowdy, by Mary Rose Lalli, our amazing book-keeper and Notre Dame grad. For those who could do it, there were also scoops of the best vanilla ice cream produced in America, Blue Bunny, produced in Le Mars, Iowa, and an object for study by ice cream makers all over the world.

Yet all morning before that, and for hours after,  there was also my humble pie to taste.

The main reason for the humble pie was my huge error in predicting the outcome of the November 7 election [see NRO June 15 and Nov. 1]. Especially in the Senate, I foresaw the Republicans not only holding their majority, but picking up a seat or two. It is true that Republican turn-out was higher than predicted, and strongly in support of Republicans. But I failed to see  just how revolted independent voters had become. In the end, the Democrats won something like 8 million more popular votes than the Republicans – a huge swing from the last two elections. Democratic votes always tend to be concentrated in large safe districts, usually urban, so a higher popular vote for them is to be expected; but not of this dimension.

Once upon a time, I followed a wise rule not to engage in predictions about future events; better just to wait for the reality to take shape, and to appreciate its contours as these unfolded.

Humble pie consists of a renewed resolution to go back to that rule.  I must stick to what I do best, and not even try to compete with professionals in political prognostication. At least, not in writing.

Privately shared opinion is a more lenient matter.


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