Not Exactly Profiles In Courage

In Profiles In Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote of eight United States Senators who, at different times in the nation’s history, took brave stands against prevailing opinion, risking their careers by voting against popular causes or opposing what they believed was wrong.

Boy, things have really gone downhill since then.  Now the people running for the Senate seem to be more interested in demonstrating their cravenness than their courage.

Consider Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Kentucky.  In her meeting with the editorial board of the Louisville Courier-Journal she was asked repeatedly whether she had voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.  And she declined to answer the question — again and again and again.  It’s a pathetic performance by a candidate who is attempting to hide behind the “sanctity of the ballot box.”  And Grimes is not alone.  Other  Senate candidates this year also are declining to answer questions about whether they voted for President Obama.

When someone is trying to be elected to a position that will make them one of only 100 members of the United States Senate, and if elected will be serving during the final two years of the Obama Administration, I don’t think it’s unfair to ask whether they voted for the President.  If a candidate running as a Democrat is unwilling to answer that question, what does that tell you about that candidate’s ability to be open and transparent, actually tell you what they believe, and let the chips fall where they may?  Why would anyone — regardless of their party affiliation or political perspective — trust a candidate who won’t directly answer a question about who they voted for in the last presidential election?

This is a big problem.  We don’t have candidates who actually believe in anything — other than getting elected.  In my view, if you’re not willing to simply answer the question Grimes was asked, and then add whatever additional caveats you think are appropriate, you are simply too gutless to hold a job that requires both responsibility and leadership.

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“Man-Oh-Manischewitz!”

“Man-oh-Manischewitz!” is one of the standard catchphrases in the Webner household.  It’s an all-purpose comment that may properly be used in a variety of situations to convey surprise, delight, or satisfaction, or even as a deft substitute for a minor obscenity.  (Another oft-heard statement in Webner House is “one man’s family,” usually muttered with a sad shake of the head and heartfelt sigh while looking at a mess created by the dogs.)

Every successful relationship or team has these kinds of verbal stand-by references, whether they be secret nicknames, punchlines from old, long-forgotten jokes, a lyric from a song that was popular during college, or the tag line for ancient TV commercials about really tooth-curlingly sweet kosher wine.  You could reasonably argue that such utterances are, in fact, part of the reason why the team or relationship is successful in the first place.

These comfortable catchphrases usually provoke an inner, if not outer, smile among the members of the circle.  They reflect a deep and lasting familiarity and tradition that makes people feel special.  Often they have been used for so long that the first relevant use of the phrase has been lost in the mists of time — although in our case we can reasonably guess that one of us blurted out “man-oh-Manischewitz!” after taking a good slug of an adult beverage that unfortunately turned out to be too strong, too sweet, or otherwise unpotable, everyone laughed, and it became memorialized in the family lexicon.

“Man-oh-Manischewitz!” is a pretty good catchphrase that has come in handy over the years, and it’s also part of a very interesting story with an Ohio connection.  If you’re looking to develop your own family traditions, I commend it to your attention.