National Security & Defense

Cruz and Obama, &c.

(Tom Pennington, Pool Image/Getty)

I learned from this article that David Axelrod has been talking about the difference between Ted Cruz and Barack Obama. In 2008, Axelrod said, Obama ran as a uniter. (I’m paraphrasing.) Cruz, on the other hand, is running as a divider.

It’s true that in 2008 Obama mouthed some pretty things about One America. But remember his ad in 2012: “Mitt Romney. Not one of us.”

And if Cruz ran an ad naming a Democratic opponent and then saying “Not one of us”? Armageddon.

Axelrod, no dummy, certainly about politics, must know this.

‐On Saturday, I was in the office, and so was a colleague, along with her adorable little girl (age three, I would say). The girl was too shy to deal with me. (Many women have been.) That’s okay. She didn’t have enough warm-up time.

Which leads me to this piece of news: “An Indiana Democratic state representative made a shocking claim during a floor speech earlier this week when she said a Republican colleague’s 18-month-old toddler was scared of her because she’s black.”

For the article, go here.

The state rep said that the toddler, a boy, was “scared of me because of my color.” She said she had told the boy’s father, “Please, introduce your child to some people of color so that he won’t live his life as a prejudiced person.”

The father, obviously perplexed and flummoxed, explained that his child was shy “with anybody brand new. He buries his head in his dad’s shoulder. Whoever it is, that’s what he does. He’s an 18-month-old kid.”

You know, sometimes a cigar’s a cigar. And sometimes a little kid’s a little kid, not a racist.

‐Some news stories, you read over and over again. Let me illustrate what I mean. When I was in college, in the mid-1980s, a drunk driver in Minnesota ran into a pregnant woman, causing the death of the unborn child: a boy who had been eight and a half months along. The question was, “Can the driver be accused of vehicular manslaughter?” The answer was, “Hell, no.” He had not killed a human being.

Which must have been of great consolation to the mother.

You have probably read the latest, out of Colorado:

The woman accused of attacking a pregnant woman and cutting the unborn child from her womb will not be charged with murder for the death of the baby, the Boulder County district attorney confirmed Friday.

The baby, a girl already named Aurora, does not count as a human being. Therefore, you can’t have killed her.

So, I say to the mother, “Cheer up! There’s no sense weeping over a meaningless blob of protoplasm.”

“Aurora,” of course, means “dawn.” But sometimes they don’t. Dawn, that is.

‐The other day, I passed the Plaza Hotel in New York and saw that big rat parked outside — facing the building. I thought, “I wish I could rent two or three floors of the Plaza right now. If only I had the money.”

Let me supply a link, to this piece: “A Long Way from Harlan County.” I wrote it last summer. It has to do with labor unions in my time (and our time). I once wanted to be pro-labor. But the facts, as I found them, wouldn’t let me.

I’ll do some quoting:

On the sidewalks of New York, there is often a huge inflatable rat parked in front of a building, blocking your way. A union has put it there, to shame the people within. They are non-union. It is not a cute, cuddly rat, but a giant nasty one. Non-union workers are supposed to be “rats,” you see. Didn’t Nazis equate their opponents with vile animals?

And a little more quoting:

I hate this rat. I hate the word “scab.” I hate the idea that you can’t cross a picket line — some holy cordon. I hate the whole bullying, ugly, greedy, undemocratic nature of unions.

I could quote on, but I realize I’ve already supplied the link . . .

‐Another tale from New York: The worst thing about Times Square, to me, is those “costumed characters.” Those Elmos (from Sesame Street) and Woodies (from Toy Story) and Mickeys and Minnies and so on. They flood the zone and bother people as they pass through. They especially try to entice children, to have pictures taken (for “tips”).

Very, very rarely — all too rarely — do I have an idea for a novel or movie or something. I’m a hopeless nonfictionalist. But an evil premise occurred to me: One of those costumed characters is a murderer, particularly of children.

That would put a dent in the Times Square costumed-character business, wouldn’t it?

‐I loved this story because it is just so American: “Arizona man finds gun inside used golf bag.” Yup, he discovered that the bag he had bought the day before “was packing more than just a set of clubs.” It included “a loaded .22-caliber pistol.”

The man “took the weapon to Bullhead City police, who say it was not registered or reported lost or stolen.”

I know I’m supposed to be horrified. What if a child had found the gun (as the buyer pointed out)? But the previous owner kept a gun in his golf bag. It’s just so American, and I can’t help being tickled by it, I’m sorry.

(Playing golf in the desert, you may well encounter critters that need to be shot.)

‐I thought of something that I think I remember from American history: Andrew Jackson, when he was running for president, opposed the mandatory licensure of physicians. If you wanted to put out a shingle, saying you were a doctor, fine. Buyer beware.

Did you see this story? “A woman used forged documents to pose as an estate lawyer for a decade and made partner at her small firm before her fraud was discovered.” I wonder whether she was good at it — lawyering, I mean.

‐A cologne beautifully suited to Homer Simpson: smells like hamburger.

‐This item’s a little weird — like the previous few haven’t been — but get this: A man cycled up the stairs of Taipei 101, the historic skyscraper in the Taiwanese capital. I just want to say: On my one visit, I found it challenging to wait in line for the elevator.

‐I’d like to close by marking the passing of Yehuda Avner, the Israeli diplomat. (For an obit, go here.) I had the pleasure of getting to know him when I was writing my history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Avner helped Menachem Begin with his Nobel lecture (an address in English). Avner was an Anglo-Israeli — born in Manchester.

Begin would say to him, “I need you to Shakespeare-ize my English.” Or, “Please polish my Polish English.”

Avner was polished indeed: an elegant, erudite man. He served a succession of prime ministers, and wrote about them in a memoir called, simply, “The Prime Ministers.” This book is like candy, to anyone interested in Israel or in politics generally. There is a prize-winning story on every page.

Later in his career, Avner served as Israel’s ambassador to his native country, Britain, and to Australia. I’m so glad I entered his life, or he mine, a little bit. I can hear his musical voice on the phone right now, speaking to me from a sunny balcony. He told me many interesting things, not all of which I put in my book. But I have them banked, mentally. And I smile at the very thought of Yehuda Avner.

Have a good week, everyone. Thanks for joining me.


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