Equality is often on my mind, but it’s particularly salient today. I just left an event with Ruth Bader Ginsberg and it’s Women’s Equality Day. Ginsberg was at my university, receiving an honorary degree, just days after announcing that she completed another round of treatment for cancer. It was a moving presentation, and I was honored to be in the same room with her (it was a big room, an arena, so it wasn’t like I was even close enough to shake her hand, but it was still great). If the audience were allowed to ask questions, and I had more courage than I have, there’s something that’s been gnawing at me lately. It would have been nice to know what she thought. Instead, I’ll just ruminate and use this thing like I have so many times, as a hybrid diary sounding board that doesn’t talk back to me.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. It’s been a combination of a few things, including work-related travel, being busier at work, and being really disheartened by the state of the world. This blog has helped me handle that feeling in the past, but over the last couple of months, trying to put fingers to keyboard seemed to make it worse. The state of things is so upsetting to me that I’ve even moved away from my morning routine. This routine includes sticking my iPad into a resealable plastic bag and setting it on a ledge in the shower so I can get my morning dose of news, flipping between CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews. I still have most of this morning routine, and still put my iPad in plastic and bring it into the shower with me, but instead of news, I turn on a West Wing rerun to start my day. The policies from the White House bother me, and the shootings hurt my heart, but I think more than any of it, the division is what pains me the most.
(Photo and story from https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/obama-standing-ovation-toronto)
Barack Obama was not the most popular president the country has seen. His overall average approval was 48%, hitting lows at 40% couple of times in his first and second terms. He came into office with a 67% approval and never quite hit that level again, coming closest in the final polling of his presidency when he reached 59% (these numbers are from the Gallup presidential approval center, other numbers may vary slightly). A notable difference between our current and former presidents is their willingness to go into mixed crowds.
I did it. I unfriended a Facebook friend. A person who was a peripheral part of my friend group in high school. A person who re-entered my life through Facebook years ago. A person who I have seen in person about five times in the last eleven years, but who I conversed with regularly on Facebook. This is a person who is the poster child for some of the awfulness of the GOP. He will tell people in “private” that he hates Trump, but takes to Facebook repeatedly to defend him, and to belittle those who criticize (in the same kind of name-calling tone that Trump embraces). He considers himself to be socially liberal, and fiscally conservative, but he genuinely believes that he is discriminated against for being a white male. The string of text messages calling me a “pussy” that followed (and led to me blocking his phone number also) made me more comfortable in my decision, but I still have mixed feelings.
Notre Dame burned yesterday. It’s a beautiful place, that I’ve only seen from the outside, but even if you’ve only seen pictures its beauty is impressive. The President of the United States responded with a tweet. A mind-numbingly dumb tweet.
In contrast, Pete Buttigieg (the democrat running for president) issued a statement in French (one of EIGHT languages he speaks: English, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French).
The past week has been an interesting time in US politics. Attorney General William Barr was given what I assume to be the final report from Robert Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 election. Barr wrote and released a four-page summary of the report, indicating that Mueller did not establish that members of the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. The memo also indicates that the question of obstruction of justice was considered and investigated, but explicitly decided against making a prosecutorial judgement. In the absence of that, the Attorney General made the decision that there was no obstruction of justice. The Trump team ran with this as a win, and has now started a full-throated attack on the media.
I know Josiah (“Jed”) Bartlet is a fictional character, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to use him as a role model, as an ideal version of what we could have. I am a Bartlet Democrat (not to be confused with anybody who idolizes the real Josiah Bartlett, with three t’s in his last name — a member of the New Hampshire delegation to the Congressional Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence). In the same way that kids use superheros as role models, I think it’s healthy to imagine what Barlet would do under real-life situations. Of course, this isn’t always possible and the situations we (or a president) encounter will be vastly different from those Bartlet would have faced. And, of course, this is all up for interpretation because nobody (except maybe the writers of the show) would know for sure what Bartlet would do. But there are some scenarios that are easier to imagine than others. His reaction to President Trump’s tweets fall into that category. Let’s play.