What's Tony Thinking

Another Week, January 27, Time for a Few Deep Breaths


Stepping Back From the Edge. In the wake of the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, did you find yourself awake at night, terrified that Train Trump is on a downhill run, gathering speed, with “next stop, the White House”? If so, tune in to Ezra’s Friday podcast with longtime Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg who argues that the Democratic Party is actually in a very good place  for 2024 . . . providing they mount an effective campaign. Rosenberg points to the overlooked string of Dem victories, 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023 and argues that more MAGA means more defeats for Republicans.

What is the relevant election to consider as a precedent to 2024? Thom Hartmann at Progressive Radio, who I regard as a smart dude, argues that we should look back to 1964, when Barry — “extremism in the cause of liberty is no vice” — Goldwater went down big to LBJ, with ads featuring mushroom clouds fanning fears of a nuclear war if Goldwater won. Hartmann thinks the GOP’s doubling down on MAGA will prove a mistake not unlike the GOP’s choice of Goldwater sixty years ago . . . let me just say that I understand that these two paras assume that I have no Trump supporters among my readers, which I suspect is true, but hope is not.

Now that I have cheered you up a bit, I do think it is important to read some cautionary words from Martin Gurri, author of the excellent book Revolt of the Public. Gurri helps us continue our effort to understand Trump’s appeal. The point is less about understanding Trump per se than our fellow Americans who support him. Gurri makes the following observation:

“After the unexpected disaster of 2016, any thinking Democrat might have been expected to ask: Why did so many people vote for such a strange man? Yet the attempt to understand was actively discouraged. It was much simpler to revile.” See the rest of his piece to understand more, revile less. Remember Trump did get the votes of 74 million of our fellow Americans in 2020. Gurri says there is a reason for that and attention must be paid.

Beware the clueless elites warns Gurri. When I spent two weeks in the fall of 2016 in Ohio volunteering for the Clinton campaign, the wisdom repeated ad nauseam from campaign honchos was, “All we have to do is turn out our voters and we win.” So we were only sent to knock on doors of registered Dem’s to remind them to “vote” and “vote early.” We bothered with no one who was on the fence. I thought it a lazy, complacent strategy. Clinton lost Ohio.

Enough of all that, how about some Jesus? Check out the video of our second “Crackers and Grape Juice” session on the book Epiphany: The Season of Glory. Emphasis falls on Christology, i.e. what we believe about Jesus Christ. Critique of understanding Jesus as only a teacher and moral example, a.k.a. “a low Christology.” It leads inevitably to moralism, as in, “be more like Jesus,” “try harder to follow his teaching and example,” etc. A “try harder, do better” message is no balm in Gilead for the weary and wary, which describes everyone today. A message of the Lordship of the crucified Christ (not Caesar or empire) and his grace for the weary and wary is the needed thing, imho. A good convo in this pod which includes yours truly.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” I mentioned this phrase in a blog this week. I have incorporated it into two of my paintings. Here’s a photo (not getting all of the painting, alas) of the most recent in that series. The “Everyone . . .” phrase in left foreground is probably not readable unless you enlarge the photo, but you get the idea.

Bookending this wrap on the week blog, recommending another of Ezra Klein’s podcasts this week, a less happy but very helpful one in which EK talks with the great Tom Friedman about the terrible mess in Israel/ Gaza.

Friedman says he’s never seen it so broken, and he’s seen a lot. He notes that Netanyahu doesn’t want to “win,” but only to be perceived as “winning.” Stretching out this war keeps the scoundrel in office and out of jail.

Friedman also cites a different, and more effective, response to terrorism, reminding us of the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. India did not take the bait and launch massive reprisals. If I had known about the more restrained response of the Indian government, I had forgotten. Check it out. There is another way to go. So sad and awful that Israel has not taken it.

Feliz fin de semana!




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