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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 3, 2014 / 5 Tammuz, 5774

Howard Baker, man in the middle

By Paul Greenberg




JewishWorldReview.com | The news that Howard Baker had passed at the age of 88 set off a kaleidoscopic swirl of memories, impressions, recollections and reflections -- so many it was surprising, for he was not a particularly memorable politician, and certainly not a colorful one.

On the contrary, Howard Baker's great strength was an ability to meld into the background, to mediate between the political stars of his time, to serve rather than lead, to be the gray between black and white opposites, always the man in the middle, the one in the background when a president signs a bill into law, the chief of staff and not the chief executive.

Howard Baker was the great compromiser, conciliator and facilitator -- never the leader. He was everybody's No. 2 choice, the ideal vice president, but nobody's favorite for No. 1. Not even his own. Even when he ran for president, he didn't seem all that enthusiastic about his own candidacy. He shied away from the immodesty of it. As he once told the rival candidates at a forum, "I don't know about the rest of you people, but one of the requirements of running for president apparently is that you incinerate any remnant of modesty that's left in your body."

Winston Churchill, who was never in the middle on any question, once described his rival Clement Attlee as "a modest man with much to be modest about." Howard Baker was a moderate with much to be moderate about, which was his great strength at a time when immoderate passions held sway. His talent for genuine moderation -- not the sort that is simply the absence of principle -- was as useful in politics as it still is rare.

Howard Baker's great virtue was that he was no zealot. His great vice may have been that he had no zeal, either -- and it is hard if not impossible to recall any great political leader who didn't have that quality, who didn't have what George H.W. Bush once called "the vision thing," a construction that only someone without it would use to describe the indispensable quality a great leader must have.

Sen. Baker was great at what he was -- a skilled politician who had a gift for moderating the too-bold views of others. But no one would have confused him with the star of the show, however great he might be in a supporting role. His specialty was to step in for the star at that critical moment when the leading man's charisma had worn thin and he was in danger of losing his audience. That's when Howard Baker would save him from his own passions.

That's just what a great leader may need from time to crucial time: a Howard Baker to calm things down, restore perspective, give sanity a chance, and let the star regain his equilibrium without losing his zeal. That's what Howard Baker did for Ronald Reagan, a great president who had stumbled into less than great decisions that had left him at the mercy of the hard-driving Oliver Norths and Don Regans of his administration, who could be as reckless as they were feckless.

Left surrounded by the wreckage of the Iran-Contra-arms-for-hostages tangled affair, the Gipper did have enough presence at that low point in his presidency to reach out for the one man who could save his administration and reputation, the ever moderate Howard Baker, who was never moderate about serving his president or his country. Whatever personal ambitions of his own he might have had, he could put aside or forget entirely.

Rather than slide into another failed presidency, Ronald Reagan picked up the White House phone and put in a call to Howard Baker. He got Mrs. Baker instead, who explained that her husband was out for the moment, having taken the grandchildren to the zoo. To which President Reagan, never at a loss, replied: "Do I have a zoo for him."

He did indeed. At which point Howard Baker stepped in to tame the lions, clean out the cages, see that the clowns didn't run the whole show, and generally play the role of ringmaster, moderating influence, and the chief of staff who got the whole zoo organized again. He not only saved the day but the last years of the Reagan presidency.

But it was as a senator that Howard Baker may have left his most enduring and still highly relevant legacy. Naturally, it was in the form of a question rather than anything so immoderate as an outright statement. It was as a member of the Senate Watergate Committee in the troubled summer of 1973, a role in which he was expected to be nothing more than a defender of his friend and patron Richard M. Nixon, that Sen. Baker posed a simple, fair and ultimately the essential question of the whole affair: "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

Everything else about one of the great scandals, turning points, revelations and in the end redemptions of American history unfolded from that point on in answer to his question.

The discovery that the United States of America could have so corrupt a president that he corrupted all around him would in turn lead to the rediscovery that the country still had the courage to address Howard Baker's question -- wherever it led -- and the resilience to demonstrate that the system still worked. All in response to one question from one senator.

Howard Baker's question resonates even now, for it remains as relevant as it was during Watergate, which has passed into history only to be succeeded by other scandals with other names -- from Benghazi to the IRS -- that raise the same essential question Howard Baker did then:

"What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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