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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 8, 2008 / 5 Tamuz 5768

A willful blindness

By Paul Greenberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's a time-honored ritual: The once bitter rivals come together and smile broadly for the cheering crowd. They're the very picture of unity. And maybe only the picture.


It's Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams making their gentleman's agreement in the election of 1824 ("You be president, I'll be secretary of state") although the Jacksonians preferred to call it their Corrupt Bargain.


It's Kennedy-Johnson in 1960. Why let a little difference in age, ideas, backgrounds and lots more get in the way of political victory?


It's Dwight Eisenhower and Robert A. Taft meeting at Morningside Heights in 1952 to bring a riven party together.


Now it's Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama acting like soulmates as they join forces in unity at Unity, N.H. Wouldn't you like to know what was going on in their minds as Dragon Lady and St. Barack made nice? On second thought, better we shouldn't know. A stable society requires public manners and private thoughts.


This year's presidential campaign, however weary of it we may already be, is only beginning, like some placid little stream winding its way through Minnesota before it gradually swells into the Mighty Mississip that can take out whole cities downstream when it reaches flood stage.


Alexis de Tocqueville — a French visitor who had our number in the 1830s, and whose classic study may still be the best guide to Democracy in America — compared an American presidential election to a great flood:


"For a long time before the appointed hour has come, the election becomes the important and the all-engrossing topic of discussion. Factional ardor is redoubled, and all the artificial passions which the imagination can create in a happy and peaceful land are agitated. ... As the election draws near, the activity of intrigue and the agitation of the populace increase; the citizens are divided into hostile camps, each of which assumes the name of its favorite candidate; the whole nation glows with feverish excitement; the election is the daily theme of the press, the subject of private conversation, the end of every thought and every action, the sole interest of the present. Then, as soon as the choice is determined, this ardor is dispelled, calm returns, and the river that had been out of its banks returns to its usual level...."


That's a free translation, but it captures the spirit of M. de Tocqueville's psychoanalysis of an American presidential campaign. How little things have changed since the Jacksonians and Whigs were vying for power and pelf in the 1830s. They could be Democrats and Republicans today. What a remarkably continuous history we Americans have. (Never mind that unpleasantness back in 1861-65.)


Historians still cite the bitter election of 1800 (Adams vs. Jefferson) as a milestone of discord, but we tend to forget that, for all its ill temper, 1800 may have been the first time in Western history that political power was peacefully transferred from one faction to another by the ballot box. In 1876, the politicians had to strike another grand/corrupt bargain. By 2000, that function had devolved on the U.S. Supreme Court. But we held together. Somehow.


As our grand national fit comes over us again, I know I'll grow as passionate about the contest as anybody else. It happens every four years. When the fever hits, I'll have to go back and read Tocqueville's words about the rise and fall of the floodwaters. And realize that this, too, will pass.


The best guidance I know along these lines comes from another book, the "Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius. Being a Roman emperor, and therefore constantly urged to do this or do that, or maybe everything or nothing at all, by anybody and everybody who could to get his imperial ear, the emperor adopted a simple rule that might come in handy election years. Or any time.


"Whatever is being said," Marcus Aurelius advised, "ask yourself: Why is this man saying this thing? What is his motive? But begin with yourself and examine your own motives first."


I really should copy that counsel and tape it to the wall right above my computer screen. Where I'll be sure to see it when zeal strikes. As it will.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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